Sunday, September 7, 2008

How it all started....

For those of you who actually want to know some history on our journey, I will do my best to be concise :-) I really decided adoption was something I desired to do after a paper I wrote in college back in 1996. I had done some research on the one child policy in China and how that was affecting their culture. I read about how (mostly) baby girls were being neglected, abandoned, or worse as a result of most families desiring boys or maybe they had already reached their one child limit. I remember how that made my heart feel. I was so hurt and angry and determined that if I had my way, one day, I would take one of these children home. Brian and I, though we were just dating at the time, went as far as to go to an adoption meeting we found out about through our church. That was where I first heard of the cost and what it took to actually bring a child home. Obviously, it wasn't the right time, so we tucked this dream and this information back in our minds and just lived life. 

We were married in August 1998, and in 2002 had our first child. Ben was born, and was a very healthy, easy baby. Again, we had another boy, biological, in 2004. This time, our second son, Elijah, brought with him some health struggles and challenges that we had to work hard to help him through over the next couple of years. We knew at that point that we still wanted more children and began to think about adoption a little more seriously. I especially began to feel my heart being burdened and pulled again in this direction. One morning in particular stands out to me. I was doing some babysitting at a church for a women's Bible study around Indy and I had the toddlers in my class. I had been praying about the adoption  off and on. Mostly, I just tried to lay down my desires at the feet of God. I knew that I wanted this decision to come from him, and for it to be absolutely what Brian and I both felt like we were to do. Even with that being my prayer, I just couldn't get it off my mind. Sure enough, I had a 12 month old baby girl join my class who had just been adopted from China. I remember laughing and telling God that this really wasn't fair. Here I was trying to let go of my desires and give them over to Him and now I have to take care of this little baby every week. This was January 2005. Brian and I began to talk about it a little more and decided that we really wanted to make sure Elijah was in a stable place with his health, our debts were all paid off, and we had at least secured some money to be able to start this process. So that is how we directed our prayers. Lord, guard our hearts, heal our son, and bring us some cash! Elijah was still on a G-tube at this point, so we knew that needed to come out, for sure, before we could take on another child. We talked and prayed a couple of months more and one day got a last minute call from a friend of ours on a Friday afternoon who wanted us to join him and another couple at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert that evening downtown. For those of you with kids, you know trying to get last minute baby-sitting isn't the easiest task, so for that to all fall into place was going to take a miracle in and of itself. Well, it did. God wanted us there. During the middle of the show, the concert took a different turn and we found our selves smack dab in the middle of an adoption promo. Videos, and information, and stories, the whole nine yards. I of course start praying, okay Lord, you know what this is doing to my heart. If this is really you, you know you are going to have to provide financially for this. No sooner did that echo in my heart when Steven began talking about the grant ministry he and his wife MaryBeth started called Shoahannah's Hope. They offer grants, not loans, to families who otherwise couldn't afford to adopt. Brian and I just looked at each other as if God had just audibly spoken to both of us at the same time. It was really amazing. This was I believe, April of '05. We really began to pray more seriously. That following Monday, we travelled down to Nashville for Brian to play a gig with a friend. I was going down alone, he had gone down earlier with the band. On the way down I spent a great deal of time praying and giving this to God. Asking for him to lead us. It was during this prayer, I saw a picture in my head of not one, but two children. One was Asian and one was African American (a little boy). I thought that was strange and remember telling the Lord, okay, I know who the little Asian kid is but you got me on the other one. A few hours later, I arrived at my brother's house. We chatted for a few minutes and got caught up. I was getting ready to tell them about what God had been stirring in our hearts for a few months when they beat me to the punch. They started telling me about how just this past weekend at church (just 36 hours after our concert experience) they felt God calling them to guessed African American boy (which they brought home later that year in November). Okay, Lord, I guess this is really you, huh. Shortly after that, and I don't remember the exact timing of everything, God began answering our other prayers. Elijah was diagnosed with a treatable condition and began to grow and show improvements. We MIRACULOUSLY got the finances we needed to pay off our debts and start the adoption process. And by March of '06, Elijah had his feeding tube out and was discharged from many of his therapies. So, we took this as our green light to actively pursue the process. We started with China only to find out quickly there were some age and financial requirements we didn't meet. We began to pray about where to adopt from after that. While at a routine clinic visit at the hospital for Elijah, I noticed a little Indian girl about 15 months or so across the room. She was just wearing a diaper and she toddled onto the elevator and as she turned around a looked at me, I without thinking looked at Brian and said, let's adopt from India. I don't remember his exact reaction, but it was positive. Later that same day, I received an email from my sister-in-law. In it, she was telling me about the mission trip her brother had just returned from where he visited orphanages in India and Nepal, and attached to it was a picture of a little girl from one of these orphanages. We started looking into India. It was going to be a long process, we knew, but we met all the criteria and so off we went. It took us until about November of '06 to get to the point where we were ready to start preparing our dossier. We had recently also applied for a grant from Shoahannah's Hope and were waiting to hear back from that. During the month of November, we went to Nashville where we attended a small fundraising dinner with my brother and his wife put on by the Chapman's for adoption. We were really beginning to get excited. As a side note, we also during this time stumbled upon a fairly new album from one of our favorite Christian bands that was written in response to a trip they took to India. Then, in true God fashion, we were thrown a bit of a curve. In mid November, we found out we were expecting...unexpectedly. Even though this seemed to contradict where we clearly thought the Lord had been leading us, I cannot deny that even the timing of us discovering this was also divine. I don't really know how long I had been pregnant when we found out. I literally woke up one day and couldn't remember when my last cycle was.  I reluctantly took a test that night at my husband's prodding, but did not think to look at the results from the test until the next morning. This same day, just a few hours after learning of the impending arrival of our third child, we received word from Shoahannah's Hope that we received our grant....the most we could get. It was at this moment we realized our family of four would eventually be six. We did put the dossier on hold until after the baby was born, as was the policy for our agency. We welcomed a healthy baby girl, Ella-Kate, to our family June of '07. We finished our dossier and had it in by December of '07. We expected to have to wait anywhere from 12 to 15 months to get a referral. It is now September '08 and we are fourth on the waiting list. We are excited to think we could hear something soon, and look forward to finally finding out how this story is going to end......
For all of you visitors, I have to say this is my first blog experience. I haven't had a great deal of computer experience in my stay at home mom career so bear with me if I mess something up here. 

As many of you know, our adoption journey has been along time coming. Some of you know bits a pieces of the story, others may not. I wanted to take time to share our journey thus far and also have a way to mass communicate where we are now. Since I just received a call recently saying that we need to make sure all last minute paperwork details need to be finished "in case" we get the call here soon, I thought this would be a good time to start. 

So for those of you who like to get to the point, here is the latest: we have been on the waiting list for a while now, meaning we have finished all the necessary paperwork and were just waiting for our adoption agency to call us telling us they had a child for us to consider. This is called a referral. Over the last several months, referrals had not been coming through because the agency was waiting for their India license to renew. Once the renewal process went through, referrals began to happen quickly. I spoke to our case worker this past week and she said there were only 3 families ahead of us. This could mean a call any day now, or in another month or so. Even so, for the first time it began to feel a little more like a reality for the first time. There have been some changes in immigration so we have to file more paperwork (which in adoption terms, also means additional cost) with them in order to travel.  So we are doing what we have learned how to do pretty well, which is wait a little longer. We will certainly keep our posts up to date as we know something. Thanks for all of you who have prayed and just asked how things were going!